Friday, July 20, 2012

Boat Trip to Lamanai

Along the Maya Route

Talk about magical moments!  During our  rip roaring boat trip down the New River in Belize we spotted crocodiles, snakes and howler monkeys, but it was the jungle that I found the most fascinating--so dense I couldn't see sunlight through the trees.  This is the reason I came to Belize in the first place.

Belize is an odd country.  Central American with a rich Mayan history but a Jamaican vibe.  English, Creole and Spanish blend together like musical chords.  Sometimes we understood.  Sometimes we didn't.

"You want fill it up with regular?"  the attendant at the gas station asks us upon our arrival.  Unlike the states, rental cars are handed over with empty tanks.

My travel buddy nods.

The attendant throws back his head and laughs and laughs.  "Only have super."

This happens all the time in Belize.  Their speech is sprinkled with laughter.  They tease and joke until you join in.  Being serious is not allowed.  Laughter, after all,  is a universal language and an ice breaker.  It got us through many trying moments during our two weeks down there.

Belizeans are not in a hurry.  Punctuality is unheard of and it turned out to be a good thing.  Our boat was to leave Orange Walk at 9 am, but my travel buddy was bitten by a chow just moments before.  He needed to go to a doctor.  "Don't worry," the dog's owner said.  "The boat never leaves until ten!"  He kindly escorted us to the doctor's office and his leg was cleaned and bandaged.  His body was more sore from the tetanus shot than the actual wound. 

Paths lead through the rainforest to both excavated and unexcavated sites.  I wanted to grab a shovel and start digging.  Was there another giant face waiting to be revealed?

Lamanai  is one of the oldest of the Mayan cities.  Relics have been carbon dated to 1500 BCE and Mayans lived here until the 16th century, making it the longest known occupied city of that civilization.  Many jade and copper artifacts have been uncovered here.  Archeologists believe copper was produced on-site; therefore, this city was an important post along the Mayan trading route.  I can't help but think it's remoteness attributed to its longevity.   Still, I liked walking through the jungle the best.  My guide rambled along with me, happily pointing out black orchids and the giant cahune trees.  I loved it when the cicadas and the monkeys "went off" at the same time.  I let my travel buddy climb the pyramids by himself this time.  I was in no hurry.  I was in Belize.

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